For the past 10 years, I have been working with my local club to recruit more members. In my experience, recruitment is the simpler part which is discussed in this blog. Retention of members is the harder topic which I would discuss about in a later date.
I highly doubt any club owner would reject the idea of having more members. Therefore this blog post assumes that the club owner is continually looking to improve its presence for expansion, and the sake of promoting Judo within the community
For those who don't know me, my name is Sunny. I've started Judo in year 2000 and have visited numerous clubs in Asia and Europe. I've seen clubs of a small mat area with more members than it could fit, and clubs with too large a mat space than was needed. I have had numerous conversations with people I've met all over the world as to why they've stayed or left a club, or continued to do Judo,
Like it or not, people come and go. They get extremely excited an endeavor and the next minute they might change their minds. The same goes for a setting up a club and attracting members. The trick is to leave a lasting impression so as to not hinder their increasing passion for the sport.
Once that impression is formed, the member might move on to join the club, or decide that Judo is not for them. Therefore a good first impression is the key to recruiting a potential member. A person coming to "try out" Judo is already a strong indicator of interest, as they've took the time and effort to get to the dojo. After a first visit, the second visit will likely solidify a potential member's intention to join. The justification is that if so much time is spent getting to the dojo and doing the class, they must really like doing it (Judo)
This blog post will cover a number of easy things you can do to improve your club presence. (Not including technical ability - that you will have to improve yourself) This comes from my experience travelling and visiting clubs worldwide
1) Club cleanliness
Without a doubt, hygiene is paramount. Dust, bloodstains, water leaks, a dim lighting, cracks, uneven painting, dark surroundings and loose rubbish should be cleared. To clean and disinfect the dojo, do not use soapy water as it often leaves a residue and someone could be allergic to it. You can also use wet wipes, or some weak alcohol like isopropyl alcohol (Fairly affordable) to disinfect the dojo. Ring worms and illnesses should be under control for the wellness of the club members. For a good scrub of the mat, the cloth used should go WITH the grain surface of the tatami mats, not against.
2) Club cleanliness on an individual level
Members should wear a uniform that is fitted for their size. An oversized unfitted sweaty gi often found in Judo is less of a flattering look than another martial art (You know, that one) that has nice cool designs and is well fitted. It SHOULD NOT be the case but retail therapy is a serious industry and people like to purchase things that look nice on them. This should be a consideration when wanting to attract a potential member.
3) Take better pictures
With better lighting in 1), you have the ability to take better pictures.
Nowadays, you dont need to take pictures with an expensive hand held camera. Mobile phones are a good affordable alternative and some provide really good resolutions
Before you take a picture, make sure that you will be getting a clear shot.
Light has to be shining on the people, not behind the object. Otherwise you will be in a situation where the photos will turn out dark and or blurry.
Blurry photos on social media arent a good look.
You can also look into image editting apps (for android/apple) that will make your pictures look fancy. It isnt necessary though. For android, I would use Lightroom CC, Photoshop Express or Snapseed. They have free versions which are relatively simple to use.
You can also choose to "Crop" the picture to suit facebook's size restraints. A square picture looks good, a rectangle will be automatically adjusted in facebook to suit its layout limitations.
With better pictures, followers who arent part of your club can gain confidence and have a better idea at what is happening.
4) Customer flow analysis
As a niche sport in Australia, potential members don't present themselves everyday. Therefore once the opportunity presents itself, you need to make sure that your potential new member is having a good experience and is not hindered by your recruitment process. Did you know that big telecommunication companies actually track their customer experience on phone calls? "This phone call may be recorded for training purposes" to ensure they're having a good experience and learn from past mistakes
For the most part, I will assume post Judo clubs do not have a receptionist. The next time someone new comes to visit the club, take a look at how long someone engages them in a conversation. Assuming that a potential member who knows no one might be excited to try out a class has arrived early, would you like them to wait around? Imagine ordering a coffee, and needing to wait in line for 30minutes. Is the wait justified for an average/great coffee? "Its been 15minutes, and really want to try this out. who do i have to talk to and who can help?" is a thought that a potential customer shouldnt have in their heads. The more chance you give people to doubt why they are trying Judo in the first place, the less likely you'll see them the next time round.
However, they could be in a position where they're happy to wait and look around till class starts, but that assumption cant be made until someone engages them in a conversation and they've no more questions to ask about the club.
I will make more blog posts in the following weeks on what I have used successfully to create a process which is highly effective in getting new members. Waiting time is only 1 area you can improve if you dont have a receptionist to attend to their questions. Reducing this wait time also allows potential members to form the impression that your members are communicative and approachable, rather than having members just come in, ignore the new person and go about in their normal group.
These 4 concepts (Especially the last) is what I utilise to help my local club, and have seen quite an improvement to getting first time visitors to visit their second time.
I hope this blog post has given you a better insight on what you can do attract and form a good first impression, because if you're not taking these into consideration, some other clubs will :D
Please like/react the facebook post if you read this far, it is much appreciated!
I'll do my best to get a weekly segment on how to improve your "customer service" skills to attract and retain new customers
p.s read our previous post on the main reasons why people do Judo here
we can ship gi/belts/hats/books to singapore/malaysia/phi/europe. do get in touch on facebook and i'll do my best
To go to part 2, click here